May 17, 2023

Cigarette butts caused fire at $95M courthouse being built, Kalamazoo County official says

KALAMAZOO, MI -- Cigarette butts caused a fire at the new justice facility under construction in Kalamazoo, a county official said, relaying information from the fire marshal.

On Thursday, June 8, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety responded to a fire at the new Justice Center near the corner of West Kalamazoo Avenue and North Park Street.

The fire was extinguished by tradespeople on site using dry chemical, Public Information Officer Taylor Koopman told MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette on Friday, the day after the blaze.

Koopman said the fire marshal determined that cigarette butts were the cause of the fire. Fire Marshal Scott Brooks could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

No water was used to extinguish the fire. Minor damage occurred to a roof drain and some metal panels on the penthouse of the building. All damage was limited to the exterior of the building, Koopman said.

It is a non-smoking site and strict protocols are explained to tradespeople and all staff on the job site every morning, Koopman said.

The damage will cost about $25,000 to repair, including labor. The county is working with the general contractor, CSM, to schedule repair and determine who will be the financial responsible party, Koopman said.

County Administrator/Controller Kevin A. Catlin attended an all-tradespeople safety meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday, June 9, to express his gratitude for everyone's safety and hard work.

He reiterated that safety protocols are to be followed to mitigate incidents like this, Koopman said.

Work resumed at 9 a.m. Friday after the safety briefing.

"CSM expects there will be no construction delays. There are some lead times on the metal panels that need to be replaced," Koopman said.

However, the work should not delay the opening of the justice center, she said. The facility is scheduled to be open in October 2023, Koopman said on Friday.

In March, the county said the building was expected to be done in September, and that is still the case, Koopman said. Officials plan to use September to train staff on the new audio/visual equipment, mechanical equipment, and different courts will begin moving operations over in October.

Want more Kalamazoo-area news? Bookmark the local Kalamazoo news page or sign up for the free 3@3 Kalamazoo daily newsletter.

Also on MLive:

After string of concerns, Kalamazoo pauses downtown police surveillance project

Cut paper mill's toxic gas output or shut it down, $600M lawsuit demands

Targeting homeless, Kalamazoo bans sleeping bags, bedding in city parks

New police motorcycles now cruising in Kalamazoo

Vandalism of new Kalamazoo Farmers Market building, fitness court irks city leaders

Kalamazoo asks for ideas to improve ‘beloved’ 49-acre city park

If you purchase a product or register for an account through one of the links on our site, we may receive compensation.